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How To Make Data-Driven Decisions Using Google Analytics

Mar 23, 2018
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How To Make Data-Driven Decisions

Do you ever feel like you’re overwhelmed with information? Whether it’s news, marketing, social media or business metrics the flood of data never stops. While information is great, it is not powerful on its own. It must be harnessed and analyzed if we are going to turn it into knowledge. The goal of business intelligence is to help businesses make smarter decisions using the information they can access.

Olap.com defines business intelligence as the following: “The term Business Intelligence (BI) refers to technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information. The purpose of Business Intelligence is to support better business decision making.”

As you can see, there are many moving parts that must work harmoniously if we want to ensure that we receive solid answers to our questions. In the past, BI was only available to large corporations. Mostly because of the expense of data storage and BI tools. Today, data storage is cheaper than ever and there are a number of powerful BI and analytics tools that any business can use for free.

One such tool is Google Analytics. This free analytics tools can help businesses better understand their website users and help them identify what actions are leading to desired outcomes. When set up correctly, Google Analytics will deliver a ton of value to all businesses.

Before we go deeper into Google Analytics, let’s touch briefly on why business intelligence is so important.

The Power of Data-Driven Decisions

While you may have a good understand of your business landscape and have acquired looks of good “on the job experience” there are times when our biases can cloud our decision making. These are known as cognitive biases. Cognitive biases are tendencies to make decisions based on limited information, or on lessons from past experiences that may not be relevant to the current situation.

These biases occur in many different areas and can influence business leaders to ignore what the data is showing and go with the intuition instead. Below is an infographic of 20 different cognitive biases created by Business Insider.

56a111b8e6183e263a8badf6-1136-2127

As you can see, there are many things that influence our decisions in both positive and negative directions. The key to good decision making is understanding where your biases might be and finding solutions to overcoming them.

The thing about data is that it has no strings attached. If you have done your due diligence to ensure you have quality data, the numbers will tell the real story. Choice-support bias is something I see a lot of in marketing.

For example, a small business owner creates a logo and thinks it’s awesome. But what they fail to see, is that their logo sends unclear messages about what they actually offer and as a result they have no traction. Running an A/B test with the current logo and a new option could help the owner see the numbers behind what works and doesn't work and allow them to push past their bias.

As you can see in this basic example, data can help a business owner see past their bias and give them the knowledge to make smarter decisions. With more access to data than ever before, the ability to make data-driven decisions has never been easier.

Here are a few more stats that prove my point.

  • The number of data sources actively analyzed by businesses is expected to grow by 83% between 2015 and 2020 (Source)
  • 96% of Media and Marketing Executives said they are deeply committed to leveraging audience data to transform their businesses into data-centric companies (Source)
  • Companies using analytics are five (5) times more likely to make faster decisions. (source)

Where Google Analytics Comes In

As we mentioned above, business intelligence covers “technologies, applications and practices for the collection, integration, analysis, and presentation of business information.” While Google Analytics won’t solve all of your business's data needs, it can handle quite a bit on the sales and marketing front.

“Google Analytics gives you the digital analytics tools you need to analyze data from all touchpoints in one place, for a deeper understanding of the customer experience. You can then share the insights that matter with your whole organization.” - https://www.google.com/analytics/

In short, this tool allows you to uncover what your users are doing and gives you the data you need to make smarter decisions.

While many website owners have Google Analytics installed, few ever access their data. I have found that many business owners would love to know what is going on with their site and users, but are intimidated by the vast amount of information. One of my goals is to help our clients gain a clear understanding of what is going on and equip them to make better decisions.

Here are three common questions business owners ask and how to use Google Analytics to find the answer. (These examples assume you have Google Analytics already installed.)

How Many Visitors Came to My Site?

One of the questions many business owners want to know is how many people saw their site over a particular period. Typically we look at monthly trends and then compare them to the previous period to see if we are increasing or decreasing our traffic.

 GA Traffic

  • Login to Google Analytics.
  • On the “Home” dashboard, change the date from 7 days to 28 days.
  • Review the Sessions, Users, Bounce Rate and Time on Site data.
  • Green means increase
  • Red means decrease

 

How Did they Find Me?

Knowing how your visitors found you will help you identify the marketing channels you should invest more time and energy on. Google Analytics can uncover this information for you in just a few clicks.

GA Source Medium-1

  • Click “Acquisition” in the left-hand navigation
  • Click “All Traffic”
  • Select “Source/Medium”
  • Adjust the data timeline on the top right to view the past month

What Pages Did They View?

Finally, if you want to know what content your visitors like the most or found the most engaging, you can see that as well. This can help you better optimize your pages and learn more about what your audience is expecting from you.

GA - paGES

  • Click “Behavior” in the left-hand navigation
  • Click “Site Content”
  • Select “All Pages”
  • Review Page Views, Avg Time of Page and Bounce Rate to get a better idea of the users’ engagement.

As you can see, with these three simple questions and answers, any site owner will have a better understanding of how their website is performing and what they need to do to better optimize for their users. By utilizing Google Analytics to make smarter decisions, today's businesses of all sizes are able to unleash the power of Business Intelligence.

If you need help setting up your Google Analytics, or would like to learn more about Business Intelligence, check out our services here and then contact us!

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Ryan Shelley, CPBI

By Ryan Shelley, CPBI

Ryan is passionate about helping companies make a more personal connection online with their customers and prospects. He is a regular contributor to Search Engine Land, the largest and most popular SEO news site on the web. His works have also been featured on the HubSpot Blog, Business2Community and by LinkedIn Marketing Solutions.

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